In the world of voiceover, particularly for tags, disclaimers, and pharmaceutical products, speed reading is a crucial skill. It's not just about talking fast; it's about maintaining clarity, accuracy, and engaging delivery at high speeds.
I can't do it. I've tried. So I am witness to it's a skill. The best are amazing at it, and it's definitely a niche, so see if you can work it up as a skill to add to your voiceover quiver.
How can you master it?
Here are 10 tips to excel in speed reading for voiceovers:
1. Understand the Material
Before you start, ensure you understand the content thoroughly. This familiarity will allow you to read it faster without stumbling over words or phrases.
The true masters of this arcane skill try to memorize copy. At least a critical chunk of it. Yes, it can be done. There are people out there that are just that good.
2. Practice Regularly
Speed reading is a skill that improves with practice. Regularly challenge yourself with different scripts to enhance your pace and clarity.
I'm not talking occasional practice. I'm talking daily practice. Hours of it. You will get it eventually. I guarantee you that. The question is how much do you want it.
Trust me. If you get known as a speed reader your bookings will increase. Why? Because this copy is IMPORTANT to the client. And what's important to the client is important to everybody paying you to read it.
3. Articulation Exercises
Engage in tongue twisters and articulation exercises. These practices help in developing clearer speech, which is essential when speaking quickly.
Have five of these gems memorized and run them over your lips all day long. Look, the advantage is people will leave you alone on the subway if your standing there working tongue twisters. And eventually, your lips will turn to rubber. That's a good thing.
4. Breathing Techniques
Learn proper breathing techniques. Speed reading requires controlled breathing to maintain stamina and avoid running out of breath mid-sentence.
Seems obvious, right? But thinking about your breath turns copy into music, and breaTh control allows you not only to ge through a speed read but to do it with VOCAL POWER!
Kind of like a person called Flash Mouth in a super hero movie. People will envy your super power.
5. Use a Pacing Tool
Some voiceover artists use a pen or finger to guide their eyes along the script. This can help maintain a steady pace and prevent skipping lines.
I personally love fingering my copy. I always have. It really keeps me focused.
6. Emphasize Key Words
Even when reading fast, it's important to emphasize key words for impact. This ensures that the critical parts of the message are still conveyed effectively.
Draw boxes around those words. They become like grammatical pions when you navigate up a copy cliff. A pro voice copy script looks pretty messy when they're done. I use to collect them. I wish I had some of those.
I had this one script that James Earl Jones marked up. That thing was framable
7. Record and Listen
Record your speed reads and listen back. This will help you identify areas where you're unclear or too fast, and where improvements are needed. It can be helpful but.
Don't overdo this tip. I'm not a big fan of listening to your reads. The truth is YOU KNOW when you've got it. You feel it. That's the goal. Feel your performance. Get your confidence up so that you can walk from the mic feeling like a SUPER MOUTH!
8. Stay Relaxed
Tension can hinder your ability to speak quickly and clearly. Stay relaxed, especially around your jaw and shoulders.
I'm a long time practitioner of tai chi. You learn to relax AND be alert. Like a cat. It's a great way to be in a booth. Relaxed and ready. You're a performer. You need physical focus. Practice that.
9. Seek Feedback
Work with a coach or get feedback from peers. They can provide insights on where you need to slow down or articulate more clearly.
Feedback is helpful for training. But in this day and age you need the training wheels off because so much of our work is done remotely. Listen, when I was a baby V/O there were casting rooms, hangs with other V/Os, patient directors, WAYS TO LEARN! Nowadays?
Send me a tape if you want. I give out free advice because I love this biz that much.
10. Know Your Audience
Tailor your speed to your audience. For instance, a disclaimer might need to be fast but still understandable to the average listener. But.
Don't think. The time to work on your technique is BEFORE you're booked to do it. It don't come naturally.
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